Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Blog Tour: Daphne Uviller's Hotel No Tell (Review & Interview)

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:

The smart and sassy detective Zephyr Zuckerman is now armed and undercover in a Greenwich Village hotel where mysteries—from garbage-grabbing guests to the reservation system—lurk around every corner.

Now working as a junior detective with the New York City Special Investigations Commission, Zephyr’s gone incognito as a concierge to find out who laundered a hundred grand off the hotel books—and why. But the discovery of a prone, flush-faced guest gasping for air in room 502 only hints at the sinister goings-on inside this funky establishment. While the rapid response of the fire department leads to a sweaty date with a smooth-talking, rock-climbing rescue worker, Zephyr finds herself even more hot and bothered by an attempted murder on her watch. Could the smart-mouthed Japanese yenta across the hall know more than she’s telling? How are cryptic phone calls from a mysterious corporation linked to the victim in 502?

Under pressure and overwhelmed, Zephyr soon finds that a concierge cover is no protection in a place where crime, like the city itself, never sleeps.

I am always up for a good, smart, and sassy detective book, and Daphne Unviller's Hotel No Tell, the second in the Zephyr Zuckerman series, fit the bill perfectly.

Zephyr has finally landed her big break…an undercover position. Working as a concierge at a fancy hotel to find out who laundered a hundred grand off the hotel books should be easy but it is surprisingly not, and after attempted murder occurs at the hotel, Zephyr begins to see that there may be a lot more than money at stake. Fielding crazy old women, a bad break-up, and the chance of new love, Zephyr’s month promises to be anything but hectic. Will she make it out in one piece? Better yet, will she ever catch the bad guys? Moreover, what about her ex- will they kiss and make up? Only time and more pages will tell in this exciting new mystery that is sure to have nearly any reader wondering, “Who did it?”

When I first started Hotel No Tell, I was not sure what to expect exactly, as I had not read the first one. Thankfully, I had no problem falling easily into the story for a variety of reasons.

For one, the characters were fantastic. Zephyr was a great main character, and there was not a time when I was not laughing out loud at her antics, or rooting for her in the many problems that arouse. In addition, I adored not only seeing her working undercover but in regular day-to-day life, because it managed to bring such a warm and funny cast of characters right along with it. From Zephyr’s friends (Macy in particular as her backstory was so original!), to her family, to Gregory, her ex-boyfriend, and her potential suitor, every one brought such a great addition to the story!

The one thing that always makes or breaks mystery novels for me is the mystery at hand. There is nothing better than a mystery I cannot figure out fully, and if that does not happen, I am always at least a little disappointed. Thankfully, the former occurred with Hotel No Tell. The mystery involving the laundered money brought many twists and turns to the situation, so many in fact, that I never exactly knew how it would end, and I have to say I adored that aspect! The side plots involving Zephyr’s relationships and friends were also decent, and I loved how everything was mostly wrapped up nicely in the end.

Finally, Daphne Uviller’s writing and world building were nothing short of fabulous. From setting to plot to main characters, there was not a time where everything wasn’t fully developed.

Full of wit and zeal, Hotel No Tell is a refreshing and charming read that I can’t help but suggest.

All I can say is there better be some more Zephyr books and soon hopefully.

Grade: B+

Hotel No Tell is now out!

Source: Christelle at BookSparksPR and Random House- thanks!


I also had the chance to ask Daphne a few questions about the book...

LCB: In your opinion, what are the top three reasons why readers should consider picking up Hotel No Tell as well as its prequel Super in the City the next time they see it in stores or online?

DU: 1) I write the books I want to read – intelligent, fun escapes.
2) It’s an insider’s look at some of the best parts of life in New York City. No matter how much you loved Sex and the City, you might want to see how the other native half lives. No need for $20 martinis to have a good time...
3) Zephyr has a runaway imagination that a lot of readers identify with – picturing herself in different careers, as a hero, a celebrity. (Her character is inspired by James Thurber’s Walter Mitty.)

LCB: With Hotel No Tell, comes the return of Zephyr Zuckerman, so can you share a bit about what she is up to in this installment? In addition, if you could offer her any advice, what would you say?

UV: Sure. Zephyr is now a junior detective with a NYC investigation agency. Her assignment is to go undercover as a concierge at a Greenwich Village hotel to sniff out a hundred thousand dollars that’s gone missing. What she finds instead is some seriously dirty laundry.

Zephyr isn’t the slick detective of so much crime fiction; she’s flawed, funny, impetuous – she behaves the way a lot of us would if we were in her position. I think I’d advise her to go a little easier on herself.

LCB: What is your favorite part about writing the Zephyr Zuckerman series?

DU: Oh no, do I have to pick just one?! I love putting Zephyr in insane situations that allow me to work out some of my zaniest fantasies while also getting to write a kind of love letter to New York City, a place that is overflowing with stories and characters just begging to be written.

LCB: Do you have a favorite scene or line from Super in the City -- if so, would you mind sharing a little about it?

DU: [I’ll answer for both books!]

One of my favorite parts of Super is a revenge scene that I wrote. A guy my friend met online said some outrageously obnoxious things to her on one of their dates. I was so furious, all I could think about was how I wanted to take him down. And then, the beauty of being a fiction writer, I got to publish my fantasy!

In Hotel, I love the scene where Zephyr’s totally bummed out and has gone to her parents’ apartment looking for some TLC, but all their lovable chaos is getting in the way. Her mother is working on a business plan with a former prostitute at the kitchen table, her brother is in love with the former prostitute, her father is unpacking groceries and announcing every item like a herald at the royal wedding. My dad (who died six years ago) was larger than life and I wrote Zephyr’s energetic dad so that I could spend some time with mine again.

Super in the City, the first addition to the
Zephyr Zuckerman serires!
LCB: Both books in the series take place in New York City, so what inspired you to set them there?

DU: I was born and bred in Greenwich Village – in fact, my kids are fourth generation on our block. My identity is so deeply tied to the place, I think I’d have a hard time setting a story anywhere else, though at the moment we’re living north of the city, which has been hard for me. Walking down a city block, I have to stop three times to write down ideas. That doesn’t happen when I’m in a suburban car bubble. New York City streets are the best free entertainment!

In Super, Zephyr becomes the superintendent of her parents’ Greenwich Village building, which I did for ten long years. And in Hotel, her investigative experience is based on my own time working for a law enforcement agency. I write what I know, but I also twist it to make it much funnier than my real life.

LCB: Since Super in the City’s publication, have you experienced any noteworthy 'rock star' author moments? If so, do you have any you would like to share?

DU: A number of readers have written to tell me that they read Super during a particularly tough patch in their lives, and that my book provided a great escape for them, made them laugh. That made me feel fantastic.

But I still haven’t had my life’s goal come true, which is to spot someone reading one of my books on a NYC subway. And with the advent of e-readers, that’s less likely to be fulfilled!

LCB: Name three things your readers would be surprised to learn about you.

DU: 1) I have a weird aptitude for remembering numbers – not math, numbers. I have hundreds of phone numbers and dates memorized and I know pi to a hundred digits. Why? No idea. My brain just does it.
2) My favorite relaxation ritual is watching old episodes of Friends. I wish real life were always that cheery and loving – such a great escape.
3) I hate shopping, to the point where some of my clothes are fifteen years old. I like looking nice, mind you, but I can’t stand shopping – I have an existential crisis every time I’m in a clothing store, like my life is ticking away and I’m in HERE? So I wait for gift-getting occasions and welcome whatever clothes my family gives me.

LCB: What is up next for you book-wise?

DU: I’m giving Zephyr a rest for now, working on a completely different book, a little more on the serious side, but still funny (I hope!), one that has three main characters. It’s like writing three whole books at once, and I’m really struggling with whether to put it in first or third person.

LCB: Is there anything else you would like to add?

DU: Anyone who wants to know the best way to become a writer should 1) Unplug 2) Read, read, read 3) Never submit something that you haven’t first printed out and read on good old-fashioned paper.


Thanks so much for stopping by, Daphne!

To find about more about Daphne and her books, be sure to check out her website.


  1. Thanks so much, Lauren! Loved the interview!

  2. Great review and interview, Lauren! Thanks for sharing.


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